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Tuesday, Nov 12, 2019

After high court order, pavements in Doon to be encroachment-free

Authorities are planning to crack a whip on those who have encroached upon pavements meant for pedestrians in Dehradun. The move comes after the high court last week categorically told authorities to act or face action.

dehradun Updated: Jun 26, 2018 21:42 IST
Anupam Trivedi
Anupam Trivedi
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
A shopkeeper encroaches a footpath near Lansdowne Chowk in Dehradun.
A shopkeeper encroaches a footpath near Lansdowne Chowk in Dehradun. (Vinay S Kumar/HT Photo)

Authorities are planning to crack a whip on those who have encroached upon pavements meant for pedestrians in Dehradun. The move comes after the high court last week categorically told authorities to act or face action.

In 2013, Dehradun-based activist MM Lakhera moved the court seeking respite from encroachers who have left no place to walk for Doonites.

“The court then appointed Rajeev Sharma as a court commissioner, who was assigned to identify with the help of administration those spots which have become problem for pedestrians. He submitted a report, the court asked administration but it did not act,” Lakhera said.

However, the matter again came before the court which expressed resentment that nothing happened and asked officials to act now or face action. “We are happy and hopeful that now at least Doonites would walk freely on the roads,” the petitioner added.

On Monday, additional chief secretary Om Prakash held a meeting with top officials. Those privy to the development said a plan was chalked out for “effective enforcement”.

The administrative and police officials were said to be busy with the meetings whole day on Tuesday ahead of the anti-encroachment drive and despite attempts could not be reached out for the comments.

In fact, needless to say ever since Dehradun was declared provincial capital of the hill state, much has had been changed in this sleepy valley. It is a peculiar situation in the capital. The pavements exist but they are not available for walk. Reason: encroachments.

Journalist Rajkanwar, who has closely witnessed transformation of Dehradun – from a sleepy town to a would be metro city, said the pavements that were made for pedestrians, have come handy for shopkeepers and vendors who are using space as the ‘extension of shops’.

In a bid to provide ample space to those who love walking, the public works department (PWD) had made pavements somewhere around 2008-09 after spending ₹30 lakh on an average for every 1,000-meter-long pavement.

Encroached everywhere

Some of the important pavements were made near Doon Hospital. Moreover, pavements are also visible at a sizeable area of Rajpur Road. However, these remains a favourite spot for encroachers right from encroachers, vendors, auto shops, non vegetarian eating joints.

For example, one such encroached pavement is close to busiest Doon Hospital. Right from Municipality Corporation to SP office and towards MKP College, walkers find almost no space over pavements since they have been encroached by cobblers, beggars and eateries.

During peak hours Doon Hospital road becomes ‘mission impossible’ for patients and others to walk since traffic congestion and parking of vehicles on both sides of road leaves no space.

“Where is the space to walk. Cars, bikes are behind us,” said Diwakar Painyuli (49), a patient, who often visits Doon Hospital.

Roads in capital indeed are already squeezed up. Nonetheless many roads were widened and pavements were made. Rajpur Road is the best example that shows mirror to the authorities. Here pavements have been encroached by tea shops, pan shops, motor mechanics, vegetable vendors. For instance, roughly 500 meters pavement stretch from Water Works at Dilaram Bazar till SSP residence is illegally occupied by shopkeepers. Most of such encroachers have political affiliations.

Interestingly, right from the SSP to most of bureaucrats passes through the stretch but it seem they are unfazed by the encroachments on streets. “I never seen these pavements free for the walkers,” said Arvind Upreti, who works at a telecommunication shop at Dilaram Bazar.

Another busiest locality in the state capital – Dharampur that badly needs pavements. However, 80 meters pavement that happens to behind temple at Dharampur till ‘sabzi mandi’ intersection is again encroached. Thanks to vegetable vendors and scooter mechanics.

The situation near Ballupur Chowk is not different. Thanks to local vendors and auto shops, here too pavements are fully encroached.

Who is concerned?

Interestingly, in many cases the encroachments over pavements appears to have become sort of ‘right’ for encroachers. For instance, pavements at Dilaram Bazar turns into a party joint in the evenings.

One can see people boozing openly and the make shift restaurants providing them all yummy stuff to relish with drinks. More often issue of law and order also arises at these happening spots.

Paltan Bazar is another place to mention. Here too footpaths are fully encroached by shopkeepers. The only relief for Doonites is that since last week two wheelers have been banned inside the market thus people have enough space to walk, without fear of being hit by speeding machines.

Nonetheless in 2004 then Lokayukta justice SHA Raza had ordered for constituting a ‘task force’ comprising officials from various departments who were supposed to look at the encroachment menace.

The task force was also supposed to clean all type of encroachments from the capital. Ironically ‘task force’ only came up in papers and the anti encroachment drive remained a ‘formality’.